2024 NYSPHADA Scholarship Winner–Aaliah Barreto

April 2, 2024

Aaliah Barreto (Artist, Scholar, Daughter, Sister and Friend)

Troy Housing Authority would like to congratulate resident and Artist Aaliah Barreto, the 2024 NYSPHADA Annual Scholarship Program winner!

The New York State Public Housing Authority Directors Association (NYSPHADA) has implemented a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors living in public or assisted housing who are preparing to enter higher level learning. In order to encourage academic excellence and community responsibility among high school students, NYSPHADA awards one scholarship to a deserving youth currently residing in a NYSPHADA member agency (a runner-up award will also be given).

Aaliah was chosen for the 2024 NYSPHADA Annual Scholarship Program out of numerous applicants statewide. The scholarship will help pay some of the expenses on the next level of her educational journey.

For many teens who grow up in public housing, dreams and goals seem unattainable due to lack of funds or other resources. Paying for college can seem unrealistic when you grow up in a household seeing your parents struggle to care for your family with limited resources. Aaliah felt like it was a burden she didn’t want to add to her family “I can’t afford college, it’s expensive so how is that going to work” says Aaliah. “I guess I’ll just go to Hudson Valley and figure it out from there”.

Aaliah credits support and encouragement from her teachers with helping her to see that there are programs that exist to help her achieve what seems impossible. “Honestly I am really grateful for my teachers pointing out opportunities and pushing me to think about a plan for what I want to do for college and beyond”.

Ikea Witt, Guidance Counselor at Troy High School talks a lot about the growth she has seen in Aaliah as a student and artist. “It’s been a pleasure to see her grow and mature into who she is now from the quiet student who kept to herself”.

“It’s been fun meeting with Aaliah and her mom to talk about goals, watching her realize she is much bigger than she gives herself credit for” says Witt. “I know Aaliah will do great things and make all of us proud, having the tough talks with Aaliah and her mom helped Aaliah see she has talent, opportunity and shouldn’t limit herself.”

Aaliah volunteers at Hope 7, Make a Wish, 518 Elevated. Art exhibits at the Troy Art Center, 4th St. Murals, NYSATA, NYSSBA Exhibit. Other accolades include: 4-year Honor Roll student at Troy High School, Bryant & Stratton Business Class, Troy City School District & Troy High School Volunteer

Marisol Candelario, Caseworker/Translator/Asset Manager for Troy Housing Authority has known Aaliah and her family for over 10 years. “I’ve watched Aaliah grow, her mom raised her and her sister right, there is no one who deserves this more than Aaliah” says Marisol. “Aaliah is smart, works hard, very talented and has the drive and determination to go far”.

Marisol gave a few pointers prior to my interview with Aaliah…

“Aaliah is shy at first but once she gets comfortable you will see she is a very sweet girl, smart and oh so talented. You are going to want to be her Mom too. Aaliah is walking around here with a lot of Moms who just want to help her, support her and we are all so very proud of her”.

Aaliah Barreto is thankful the committee selected her as the winner of the 2024 NYSPHADA Scholarship Program. The award ceremony was held during the 2024 Spring Conference for NYSPHADA at Turning Stone Casino. Aaliah, in her award acceptance speech, thanked Marta (mother), Mabel (sister) and Marisol (THA) for being her biggest supporters through her journey. Aaliah also acknowledged she now has more supporters who want to help her achieve her goals in education, art and business and promises she is committed to continue to excel and give back to her community.

(Click here to see her acceptance speech)

Aaliah Barreto (Artist, Scholar, Daughter, Sister and Friend)

Congratulations on this well-deserved achievement as the 2024 NYSPHADA Scholarship Recipient. Aaliah you have truly earned it and we wish you the best as you pursue your dreams.
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